The Quick-Step Floors team has won 30 races so far this season, but the Belgian team was left with little to celebrate in Imola after Elia Viviani suffered a bad day while the team struggled to communicate in the high-speed, rain-soaked finale of stage 12 at the Giro d'Italia.
Viviani finished 145th on the Enzo and Dino Ferrari Autodromo, nine minutes behind Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), who stole the Italian's thunder in the downpour to match his two stage wins and move to just 22 behind Viviani in the points competition. Viviani will race Friday's 13th stage from Ferrara to Nervesa della Battaglia in the ciclamino, but Bennett could take the jersey if he secures another haul of points in the expected sprint finish. Viviani has accumulated 184 points, with Bennett on 162.
Viviani pulled on the ciclamino jersey but quickly headed to the Quick-Step Floors team bus to avoid being grilled about his, and the team's, bad day in the rain. Directeur sportif Davide Bramati was left to explain why the strongest sprint team in this year's Giro d'Italia had struggled in the rain.
"We'll try to understand what happened but it as probably just a bad day compounded by communication problems," Bramati said keen to defend his riders while also hinting at the problems out on the road.
Viviani was caught out too far back when the peloton split with 30km to go. His teammates continued to lead the peloton in pursuit of the break, but the rain and high speeds made it difficult to hear orders to ease up via the team's radio.
"Everything went to plan until the wind came up and there was a split. It was a bit chaotic, and the race commissaries did a barrage meaning that we couldn't go up to them. Remi Cavagna was pulling on the front but didn't know that Elia was in the second group…" Bramati explained, his words heavy with frustration.
"When they finally heard from me, they eased up, but the gap was up to 30 seconds. The GC guys like Carapaz and Pozzovivo got back on, but then the guys went on the front gain, while Elia was down the back. He was wet and cold because he took off his cape at 40km to go."
Bramati bit his tongue and simply tried to be philosophical about Quick-Step Floors' bad day.
"That's racing. You win some, and you lose some. Tomorrow is another day," he said, hinting that other teams will now have to help chase the break across as the 180km stage the Po delta north to beyond Treviso.
"Are we worried? For sure. Bennett won and scored 44 points; we got just six at an intermediate sprint. We're still leading, but if Elia doesn't feel great, it'll be up to the other teams to lead the chase of the break as we did today," he concluded, desperate to find something positive after a bad out on the road.